Illegal demining and weak government writ

Writer: Jafarri


According to latest information, as many as 12 persons were killed during the demining of coal in the north of Afghanistan.

As illegal extraction of coal had been continuing for the last 50 years, with the machinery used in the mines was 45 years old which was donated by the Swiss government to Afghanistan.

Natural resources of Afghanistan are important assets of the country, which could be better exploited for economic self-reliance of the country.

Experts say professional and legal demining of natural reservoirs can help stabilize the economy of Afghanistan to great extent. They are of the opinion that the government of Afghanistan should accelerate woo more investment toward the vital demining sector.

Despite some investment in the past decade, the government has just able to initiate the extraction of Aynak mine with collaboration of Chinese government.

Unfortunately, the demining process in the country could not develop as per expectations due to security problems, which is hampering economic development of the country.

Unearthed Treasure:

Afghanistan is an immense rich country in natural reservoirs with existence of several minerals such as copper, iron, crude oil, gas, and other kinds of precious and semi-precious stones including ruby, emerald and marbles.

As per findings, copper mines is located in Logar province, iron in Bamyan, coal in Baghlan, chromites in Logar and precious stones can be found in Panjsher, Badakhshan, Nuristan, Laghman and Kunduz provinces.


Economic Importance of Natural Resources:

According Ministry of Mines and Petroleum’s statistics, eastern Afghanistan is rich in natural resources worth $3 trillion. However, quoting Pentagon, the magazine of New York Times said the natural resources are around $1 trillion. 

British Broadcasting website (BBC) estimated the natural resources of Afghanistan based on the information of the government of Afghanistan at $421 billion gold, $247 billion copper, $81 billion niobium, $51 billion cobalt.

Wahidullah Shahrani, minister of Mines and Petroleum indicated reserves of crude $1.6 million dollars and gas reserves $444 million.

Conducted research:

Foreign experts conducted research about the existence of natural resources of Afghanistan in the north for the first time.

Geological department of the US on the request of Afghanistan launched fresh survey of natural reservoirs in the country, which was completed in 2007.

After that, any substantial research did not take place to identify the natural resources of Afghanistan.

Challenges being faced by the demining sector:

The demining sector is facing tremendous challenges in the country which are mentioned below.

  1. Insecurity:

Investors refrain to invest in mines sector located in the insecure areas of the country. Growing insecurity and lawlessness remain a challenging factor in the way of mines extraction.

2- Government negligence:

Rampant corruption, weak government, lack of capacities and lack of investors deal a severe blow to the demining sector in Afghanistan.

3- Multiple problems:

The extraction work of natural resources needs long time, requires peaceful environment, necessary equipments and professional individuals. Afghanistan has facing shortage of all these direly needed facilities.

In addition, frequent shuffle in cabinet and political and social changes in the country halt efforts to work out a comprehensive strategy for mines extraction in the country.

Illegal demining:

After establishment of new government in 2003, the first demining contract was the Aynak copper mine while contracts for other mines are yet to be awarded. The extraction work of several mines is underway illegally.

According to the official the mines of coal in the north of the, chromite and other in the center and south east and precious stones in Panjshir, Badakhshan, Kunar are illegally extracted.

Weak government writ:

The illegal extraction of mines is underway elsewhere in Afghanistan the claims of former minister of Mines and Petroleum who vowed to introduce a new mechanism by the year 2004.

He assured the new system would be able to monitor mines sector and prevent its illegal extraction.

According to former minister, major mines of the country such as cement, marbles, coal and crude oil, are under the control of the state.

But a senior official of mines department said several mines of precious stones were out of government control in central and southeastern provinces of the country.

Government needs proper security plan:

The government is direly needed to introduce proper policy in order to halt illegal extraction of mines.

In larger interest of the country, it is necessary to create ideal environment and make sure the safety of workers and heavy machinery at the site of mine.

The long term economic prosperity of Afghanistan is closely connected with the demining process of natural resources.

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